Imágenes de páginas

to her children, sufficient to produce for each of them, while under age, an income of about £16. per annum, but till then the principal could not be touched, even for their own advantage. We were not however aware that in contemplation of a second marriage, my brother had effected an insurance on his life, with a view of making some provision for his widow in case of his removal.

It may here be remarked, that when he looked forward to a second marriage, he considered it not more as a christian duty, than a matter of worldly prudence, to avoid forming an attachment to a person possessed of much property; justly remarking to me, that in such a case it would be natural for them to adopt a style and manner of living agreeable to the habits of his wife, but inconsistent with what must be the future situation of his children. He therefore sought for other and more valuable qualifications in her who was to be the companion of his retired hours, his associate in the duties of his parishes, and the guide and instructor of his children. It was, with a special view to her comfort, that my brother made an insurance on his life, though he fully anticipated the difficulty with which he should spare the annual premium out of his still scanty income. But, notwithstanding the policy was effected, the other steps necessary for the execution of his intentions relative to its proceeds, were deferred too long; and as he died intestate, the law alloted only one third of the sum to the widow, and the remainder to the children, whose (those of the first marriage,) annual income was thus raised to about £23. while that of my sister and her expected infant amounted to only £33. It is painful to enter on a detail of this kind, which is only drawn from me by the peculiar circumstances that will be presently alluded to.

Though the sum which could be employed for the clothing, education, &c. of the children was evidently much smaller than was necessary for the purpose, and there was no fund to which we could apply, when called to place them out in life, yet neither my brother or myself had the smallest idea of making any application on their behalf to the public; not doubting that, though our own families are large, we should be enabled in one way or other, to provide what was necessary for the orphan children, whom the Lord had seen fit thus to confide, in great measure, to our care. The situation of my sister and her child was a subject of more anxious thought to myself, as their affairs were in a peculiar manner confided to my direction by my dying brother. The law having decided precisely in what manner the division of the surplus property, after discharging all demands, should be made, I requested permission to print my brother's manuscript sermons, on my own risk, for the benefit of the widow and her child: imagining that I might, by the sale of a moderate edition of a volume selected from them, add something to their comforts.

Such was the object I proposed to myself, when I first

announced my intention to the public by a prospectus : but I had scarcely made known the plan I was pursuing, when I discovered, that it was far from being satisfactory either to my friends, or to those, whom, but for their kind feelings toward me and mine, I should call strangers. I was told that when all the family of my late brother was so scantily provided for, it was not within the limits of my duty to restrict the assistance to one branch of it: that however small the sum I might wish or expect to raise, the generous feelings of the christian world were not to be thus circumscribed : and that the grandchildren of the Rector of Aston Sandford, were a sort of public charge, and would be certainly treated as such. Representations of this kind, compelled me to alter my plans; and I could not restrain my astonishment at beholding the exertions made, and the liberality displayed in all parts of the kingdom, by persons with whom I had previously held no communication, and to whom I was personally unknown. There was no difficulty in tracing this generous and christian feeling back to its source; and nothing could be more gratifying to me, than to perceive the high estimation in which the memory of my venerable father was held, in the christian church; and that for his sake a blessing was descending upon his children's children. Such indeed was the abundance of the liberality shewn, and such the readiness to contribute to the bereaved family, that I in several instances felt it a duty to endeavour to restrain rather than cherish the feeling

It was not, then, without many very painful sensations, that, after the list of subscribers to this volume had increased to an unusual bulk, and many gratuitous donations had been paid in, I found that alloy was mingling with this pleasure. A letter of inquiry and gentle expostulation from a very active advocate of the cause of the afflicted family, grounded on the discordant statements supposed to have proceeded from my elder brother and myself, led me to discover that the affectionate zeal of some most kind and valued friends, had prompted them to urge their requests in favour of the widow and fatherless, by using expressions descriptive of their destitute condition, much stronger than the circumstances of the case could warrant. I most reluctantly allude to this circumstance, lest I should appear to throw an imputation on the conduct of persons, deserving the highest esteem for their piety and benevolence, whose only error was, that they adopted as true, and widely dispersed the reports which they heard, without taking time to inquire into their accuracy. As soon as the mistake was perceived, much pains was taken both by the worthy persons here referred to, and by myself, to remove the wrong impression; but still there is reason to fear, that many have sent in their names and contributions, under the influence of these exaggerated statements. Had this discovery been made somewhat sooner, I should have suspended the printing of the sermons till I had held some communication with the subscribers, and ascertained whether they wished to have their names erased from my list or not. The work had however proceeded too far, and too much expense had already been incurred, to admit of this ; and I could only make an offer privately, which is now repeated more publicly, to all those who have in any form sent contributions under the erroneous impressions made by these exaggerated reports, of withdrawing the whole or a part of the sums contributed, by applying to me at any period previous to the tenth day of October next. This proposal has been already pretty extensively made, but as yet only three contributors have accepted it; the greater part of those to whom it was addressed having declared their opinion, that though the situation of my brother's family had not that character of utter destitution which they had been led to suppose, yet still the provision was so inadequate, as to make them find pleasure in affording their assistance; while many have entered into the feelings of an unknown subscriber, who recollecting the spiritual advantages he had derived from reading the writings of my excellent father, has assumed the signature of “ An insolvent debtor to the late Rev, Thomas Scott," and desired to make to the grandchildren, acknowledgment of what he owed to the grandfather. But, though I have thus ventured to allude to the circumstance of so few of these donations having been withdrawn, yet I trust, that no person who has been led to contribute to this fund by incorrect statements, (statements which were never made or countenanced by me or any of our family) will feel the least hesitation in recalling what was given under an erroneous impression. They are fully entitled to


« AnteriorContinuar »